Monday, October 5, 2009

The Millionaire Next Door

You may have read or simply heard of the best-selling book by Thomas Stanley, "The Millionaire Next Door," in which he describes the austere lifestyles of the rich and not-so-famous, the guys you would never guess have a dime to their names. My stepfather Chuck , 78 years old, is a perfect specimen for Mr. Stanley; he scrimped and saved all his life, now to spend his later years with several bulging bank accounts. As with all the other "MND's" in the country, you can't convince Chuck that he has plenty and he can splurge a little now and then.

I stopped for a brief visit today just after Chuck had returned from a trip, while my mom continues on the itinerary for another week. I figured since it was almost dinnertime it might be a good idea to see if there was decent food in the house. He told me that after being away from home for two weeks, he had made a trip to the grocery store but all he could think to purchase was a gallon of milk! There he was, preparing a tomato sandwich at 5:00 p.m. Luckily, he had also purchased that one item from the produce isle to keep his digestion moving.

Having just made my thirty-minute dash through Safeway as my car was being serviced, I had an extra quickie dinner in my car: Tyson's pre-cooked pork roast, a Club Card value this week. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had bought this in the first place, as I once secretly competed with my sister Katie to be the next Martha Stewart. (She has since won hands down and I have stopped taking myself too seriously.) It's a blow-out week for me and the girls; quickie dinners are the way to go. As Chuck told me about the highlights of his recent trip, I looked at the little sandwich he indicated was "breakfast, lunch, and dinner." I thought, "Add a little pork roast to that and maybe it will tide you over."

Chuck is a low-maintenance, hard-working, dedicated husband for my mom. I'm very thankful that they can spend their retirement years together, with Chuck puttering around the backyard between travels and my mom playing bridge at the local Senior Center. I guess that's why he expressed such gratitude for my visit and for the delivery of a microwavable meal. Sometimes that's all it takes to make someone's day, and to change our own perspective. Chuck, and other MND's like him, may have the resources to purchase mounds of food or even the entire grocery store, they just don't know it. Even these guys can use a little t.l.c. on occasion. And don't worry about the fine china, a microwave and paper plates will do!

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